Bell tolls for Dodge Hellcat, ND Miata dead in Japan, Lego F-150 Raptor lands


Dodge Hellcat era ends in 2023

Intake: Alas, all good things must come to an end, even those with howling superchargers. In an interview with Motor Authority, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis revealed that the Hellcat powertrain and corresponding platform will come to their conclusions at the end of 2023. “There’s two more years of Hellcat, then it’s history,” says Kuniskis. Those two years will be marked out by Dodge’s previously mentioned “24 Months of Muscle” campaign, which includes announcements like the Direct Connection program returning and the Jailbreak models for the Challenger and Charger. That calendar culminates with the reveal of Dodge’s first electric muscle car in 2024, but Kuniskis also said that we should expect to see a concept version of said car in the first quarter of 2022.

Exhaust: We’re of a split mind here. While it’s easy to rend our garments over the demise of one of the rowdiest powertrains to ever grace American highways, we also have 24 months left with it—and, if Dodge’s track record is any indication, a slew of  special-edition models. On the other hand, we recognize that it’s time to step into electrification, and if we’re being critics, Dodge is a bit behind the ball. Hopefully an electric muscle car from Dodge will invent its own mystique, just as its Hellcat-powered brethren did in years past. (We’ll say the quiet part out loud: It’s almost guaranteed to be a damn sight faster.)

Rare rotary-powered Citroën surfaces in the Netherlands

Intake: The Citroën GS was the middle child in the French automaker’s line up, but it sported a rare option even the flagship DS sedan lacked: a 1.9-liter Wankel engine making an impressive 106 horsepower. Called the GS Birotor, this particular example surfaced on Catawiki and is reported to be one of the 270 vehicles still in existence. The chocolatey brown paint and deliciously French interior design present well, as this 1974 GS Birotor was treated to a two-year restoration completed in 2015.

Exhaust: While the GS Birotor was only made for two years (1973-74), its Comotor engine was the byproduct of a partnership between NSU and Citroën. The Comotor’s performance was excellent and perfectly paired with the GS’s softly sprung, hydropneumatic suspension. But like most Wankel engines, the GS Birotor’s fuel economy was atrocious, and its asking price was in Citroën DS territory. The final nail in the coffin was the 1973 oil crisis, which hurt sales (847 units) and scrapped nearly a decades worth of research for multiple applications. Even worse, Citroën bought back as many units as possible to reduce the expense of parts and service obligations. And yet, even with these headwinds, some survived. This example before us has indeed thrived, and we are lucky to spot it today.

Toyota recalls 2018–19 Camry models for brake assist failure

2018 Toyota Camry XSE wheel tire brake

Intake: Toyota has announced a recall of 2018–19 Camry models, which it says may experience a sudden loss of braking assist. Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) say more than 225,000 cars built between January 16, 2017 and September 13, 2018 could be affected. The problem involves a defective cap on the rotating vane in the mechanical vacuum pump. Toyota says that premature wear, particularly when the vehicle experiences “frequent braking and/or long periods of idling,” can cause the cap to get stuck between the vane and the pump housing and break, at which point the pump would no longer supply vacuum to the brake booster. The brakes will continue to work, but the power assist could “be suddenly reduced” without warning, increasing the risk of a crash. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 16, 2021.

Exhaust: Braking, obviously, is one of the two most important safety features on a motorized vehicle—steering being the other—so this isn’t a problem that Toyota or its dealerships are taking lightly. Neither should you. Dealers will repair or replace the vacuum pump, as necessary, free of charge. If you own a 2018–19 Camry, and you’re concerned that your car might be among those affected, contact Toyota customer service at (800) 331-4331.

ND Miata is no longer the answer—in Japan, at least

MX-5 ND Miata front dynamic driving action
Cameron Neveu

Intake: The current Mazda Miata is no longer for sale–in its home country, at least. Mazda Japan’s website says “sales of the current model have been discontinued,” but there’s no need to fret as the statement adds, “the announcement of the new model is scheduled for this winter.” Don’t expect that to be a truly new Miata, mind. The world’s best-selling roadster will, instead, get its second refresh (to be known internally and to Mazda geeks as ND3) which will see out its final couple of years until the arrival of the all-new (and likely hybrid) NE by 2024.

Exhaust: The U.S.A. will also see a refreshed Miata for the 2022 model year and, as the very last of the pure-ICE powered models, it could well be one to treasure.

Lego’s new Ford Raptor looks just as fun as the real thing

Lego Ford F-150 Raptor

Intake: Just in time for the holidays, Ford and Lego have teamed up to release a Lego Technic version of the F-150 Raptor. Lego’s Technic line includes more advanced components such as different-sized gears and levers, and this set looks to maximize the mechanical lessons those simple machines can teach young builders. The 1379-piece set measures six inches high, 17 inches long, and 8 inches wide, and looks quite a bit like the real desert-pounding pickup. It includes a hood that opens revealing a V-6 engine inside with moving pistons, realistic steering, and full suspension on all four wheels. For just $99, you could spark the imagination of a young engineer in your family with this set.

Exhaust: Time and time again, Lego wows us with awesome brick-based creations like this one. We love the fact that there are moving mechanical components to this set. Unless you’ve got a partially disassembled classic out in the garage awaiting and afternoon with a young family member, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better teaching tool (for a better price) than what this F-150 Raptor offers. (Even as adults, we’re pining after a set like this to build over a nice glass of eggnog in front of the fire.)

This Polish restomod is one rad Jag

Intake: Polish custom car maker Carlex Design spends most of its time bringing the bling to high-end SUVs and sports cars, but in an unusual twist has turned its attention on the classic Jaguar XJ-C. Always rather roguish, the pillarless Jag coupe is now downright menacing, having been stripped of most of its external chrome, and been fitted with aggressive fender flares with insanely-wide, dished alloy wheels. Ultra-gloss green paintwork finishes off the exterior. Meanwhile, inside is all walnut and hand-aged saddle leather with modern instruments, and a half cage for added safety and stiffness. The original XJ-C came with either a flat-six or V-12, while Carlex have installed a 400-hp V-8 under that sleek hood.

Exhaust: Carlex is by no means the first firm to restomod the XJ-C, but its take is probably the most extreme we’ve seen. For something more subtle, take a look at former Jaguar design boss Ian Callum’s car.

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